Almost all states in Australia now have or are contemplating legislation in relation to psychosocial safety and, because it is incorporated into workplace health and safety legislation, the same non-compliance measures apply.
We all are aware that workplace health and safety is about ensuring the physical environment in our workplaces are as safe as they can be by identifying hazards and minimising risk.
Psychosocial hazards are factors that may cause harm while psychosocial risk is the likelihood of harm based on exposure to the psychosocial hazards. Psychosocial hazards rarely occur in isolation so it is the combination of various psychosocial hazards that have the potential to impact an employees’ mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Some hazards that might occur in a workplace include:
- Too much expected from an employee based on the time and resources or their skills and/or knowledge to undertake that work;
- Being micromanaged so the employee has little control over how or when tasks are completed;
- Lack of clarity by an employee in relation to the responsibilities of their job;
- An employee’s belief there is a lack of support from co-workers, supervisors or the organisation itself;
- Being exposed to inappropriate behaviours in the workplace – e.g. bullying, intimidation, harassment, sexual harassment and/or workplace violence.
As might be expected, psychosocial hazards affect different people in different ways (and sometimes don’t affect them at all). So, the goal is for us as a business to understand and identify any real or potential hazards in our workplaces though open conversation with our employees and then address the hazards with relevant policies, procedures and support mechanisms.
The upside of addressing these hazards is that employees are working in a safer work environment which, in turn, promotes employee engagement, well-being, job satisfaction and productivity.
Some of the statistics that support the reasoning behind the psychosocial requirements are:
- 1 in 5 Australian workers report taking time off from work because they feel mentally unwell (Beyond Blue)
- Businesses that have a priority for employee wellbeing have an 8 times higher employee engagement (World Economic Forum)
- 1 in 2 Australian employees surveyed said they left a workplace because of a poor mental health environment (Beyond Blue)
- Psychologically health workers are 6 times less likely to be absent from work (Safe Work Australia)
- The median time lost for mental health conditions was 5 times higher compared to physical injuries/disease (Safe Work Australia).
There are five suggested actions that can be taken to identify psychosocial hazards and risk in our workplaces so we can manage and address them effectively.
- Conduct a thorough workplace assessment – e.g. review existing and relevant policies and procedures; analyse work processes, tasks and job demands and review organisational factors (leadership styles, communication practices etc.).
- Engage with employees – e.g. involve them through surveys, focus groups etc.; encourage honest and open communication; look for signs of symptoms of stress, fatigue burnout.
- Review incident reports and data – e.g. workers compensation claims; absenteeism; employee turnover; exit interviews.
- Address the psychosocial work environment – e.g. level of job control and clarity; support from co-workers and/or supervisors; workload; deadlines; workplace behaviours etc.
- Continuously monitor and review – e.g. review and/or update identification process to ensure ongoing effectiveness; stay up-to-date and informed about emerging psychosocial hazards; etc.
The combination of employee input, data analysis and workplace assessment puts the business in a better position to understand specific psychosocial hazards in the workplace and better placed to take proactive measures to mitigate the impact on our employees.
Once the data has been collected and analysed and measures to mitigate the impact have been identified, it is super important to communicate those findings to our employees as this transparency will foster a culture of safety and support and also encourage employees to collaborate in the development and implementation of mitigation strategies.
If you have any queries in relation to psychosocial hazards, contact Akyra to for a no obligation discussion into those concerns.
Akyra’s Key Takeaways
Growing Importance of Psychosocial Safety Legislation:
- Many states in Australia are implementing or considering legislation related to psychosocial safety in the workplace.
- Psychosocial safety is now part of workplace health and safety legislation, subjecting employers to non-compliance measures.
Understanding Psychosocial Hazards and Risks:
- Psychosocial hazards are factors that may harm employees’ mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
- Psychosocial risk is the likelihood of harm based on exposure to these hazards.
- Hazards often occur in combination and can include excessive workload, micromanagement, lack of job clarity, lack of support, and inappropriate workplace behaviors (e.g., bullying or harassment).
Benefits of Addressing Psychosocial Hazards:
- Addressing psychosocial hazards creates a safer work environment.
- Benefits include improved employee engagement, well-being, job satisfaction, and productivity.
- Statistics show that mental health issues can significantly impact the workplace, with absenteeism and turnover rates affected.
Disclaimer – Reliance on Content
The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not intended to be legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.